Tuesday, 15 July 2008

STOKE NEWINGTON READING

A strange reading event last night at Stoke Newington Bookshop.

It was well attended, but I think a lot of people had come to hear Salt Publishing on the short story in the UK... and aaaaagh. Jen didn't show up, there was a problem at home. I only found out when I arrived, just after finding out that the bookshop hadn't ordered any books in...

A good start! And a perfect example of how you have to roll with the punches in this game.

There were two of us reading. First out of the gate was Jay Merrill, who read excerpts from several of the stories in her collection Astral Bodies.

Then me, and I decided to read an entre piece, and chose Irrigation, which was mentioned by Nuala Ni Chonchir on her blog recently as one in a list of stories she likes.

I ought to say, it was a delightful venue for a reading., very intimate. The readers knees almost touching the knees of those in the front row.

Which is great... except when a front row lady decides she is so switched off by what you are reading that she pulls a book at random from the bookshelf to her left, and proceeds to read that instead, turning the pages as ostentatiously as she can.

Off-putting? Intended to be, obviously. But she hasn't met me, and no, lady, it didn't work, did it?!! (But seriously... what planet was she on?)

After the readings, there was question time, and interesting discussion about how Jay and I saw the short story market in the UK. How we write. Character, voice, plotting. And of course, the inevitable question for me about whether I had done any 'research' for my story, which includes details of the mechanics of colonic irrigation.

I answered truthfully.

The bookshop was lovely. The owner was there, listening, and took orders for the book, and ordered some for the shop as well. So every cloud, and silver linings etc.

And afterwards, a crowd went to a local Indian restaurant. A taxi arrived at 10.45 to take me home, as I had to be back to look after my dad who has had a minor op, and is in bed at home.

Total cost to me of doing the reading: Taxi £125 (2 hrs, Stoke Newington to Ringmer) Why? Isn't that a huge madness? Yes. But I was exhausted from the Lit Fest last week, the last trains would have gone well before I could have got back to the right station, no way was I going to drive.. It was an obligation, having said I'd read, and it was the only way I could do so.

I do hope the lady in the front row enjoyed her book, and that she didn't crease the spine too much...

20 comments:

Charles Lambert said...

The older I get the more inflamed I become about ill-mannered behaviour. Yet I bet she wasn't young herself, was she? I wonder who she was. Sylvia? Can you hear me? Was it you?

As you'll have gathered, I know the bookshop well. If you ever go back there, try the totally ecumenical pub just up the road, the Rochester Castle, blessedly muzak-free and very cheap. And I hope you landed in one of the better Indian restaurants - they're mostly good but there are a couple of humdingers...

Kerry said...

Ah, I'm so sorry I wasn't able to make it. It sounds like it was packed anyhow! If only to give the rude woman a poke in the back - unbelievable!

I couldn't get off work in the end - very frustrating as the store is about 100 yards from my flat. I'll just have to travel further afeild for another reading :)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

A lady of indeterminate age, I'd have said. Maybe she looked like a Sylvia, I dunno, I didn't take too much notice of what she looked like, despite the obvious crying for attention that was going on!

We went to an EXCELLENT Indian restaurant. I was only cheesed off to have to leave before I'd really finished...Abi Rushi's, round the corner from the bookshop.

Will you do a reading there, C?? I will come and sit in the front row, just in case...(!)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Kerry

How's the little window?

Sorry not to get to meet you yesterday, but nemmind. Don't work too hard!

Women Rule Writer said...

Oh Lordy - the 'I am a bored audience member' syndrome. And she sits in the front row?!? The rudeness of some people beggars belief. Someone blogged recently about being at a reading of mine, not understanding the poems, and so reading the festival brochure instead. Well, you won't understand them if you don't listen, will you?
Great choice of story, Vanessa, BTW ;-)!
Onwards and upwards, girl.

Nik's Blog said...

Sheesh, that lady was RUDE. Why go to a reading if you don't want to listen?

Glad to hear of the silver linings.

Nik

Tania Hershman said...

Wow, how rude and annoying! If someone is coming to a reading (Sylvia, are you listening?) and isn't sure it is to her taste, she should sit nearer the back....Unless she is part of some disruptive militant group who hates writers.... Sorry, V, and sorry to hear that they hadn't got your books in, that just seems very sloppy and a waste of time. Sad Jen couldn't come, I am sure everyone enjoyed you both greatly, and especially your fab Irrigation story!

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi N

I gave the comp a good plug.... there were quite a few short story writers in the audience.

I did stress that it was 'voice' you responded to, not necessarily stories about poo, though. Watch out for a deluge of work on colonic irrigation.(!)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Nik

Indeed... it was lovely of the bookshop to get Glass Bubble in. lets hope it sells for them!

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi T

I know who it was.. It was the dreaded Mimi!

What a hoot.

Julia Bohanna said...

What strange element is breeding these daft rude literary saboteurs...is there a generation of older people with ADD?

I understand about the taxi - not madness but a deserved luxury.

I can only imagine how posh comics cope with the unreceptive northern clubbers....at least she didn't throw anything. (Mind you, then you could have thrown something back)

Women Rule Writer said...

Thanks for the Sean O Faolain plug. The closing date approaches - 31st July. I have received some absolute gems. Such fun! No colonics yet, but some other bodily function-related fiction...

Vanessa Gebbie said...

My god, I've just thought. If she's getting all this vicarious 'airtime', she'll be out in force at as many readings as she can. Next time she'll take a large milkshake and a straw. Maybe she's related to those women who knitted by the guillotine?

Jo said...

unreal! i think it would have been ok for you to have suggested to her that next time, she just quietly leaves.

x

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Oh no! The we wouldn't be having his fun comment thread!

martin said...

I heard the wine at the Stoke Newington readings is cheaper than the pub a few doors down. £2.50 vs £3.20 a glass. And there are free books to read too - that is if you can put up with the strange woman who decides to stand right in front of you and insists on reading hers out loud. How rude.

Seriously though, Vanessa, I was three rows back and completely unaware of this. Good on you for carrying on regardless - you didn't let her ruin the reading for anyone else.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Martin,

Glad I ignored it successfully!

Sara said...

Sigh. I am so sorry to hear of this rude rude woman. You seem to have handled it with customary dignity, so bravo for you.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

hey, it's a rite of passage. Some ya wins, some ya was never gonna get anyway.

Good to hear from you, S.

Anna said...

Hi Vanessa,

Just to say I really enjoyed the reading and will be getting in touch with Jen to see if she would like to get involved with CompletelyNovel.com...which is about short-stories too (not just Novels!)